What Specializations are Available Within Criminal Justice?

Figuring out what specializations are available within criminal justice may allow a student to head into a specific field after graduation. The benefit of obtaining a degree in criminal justice often stems from the broad application of that degree. However, if a student has set goals for employment or a career after completion of a degree, specialization might be a worthwhile investment of time.

Before deciding upon a specialization within criminal justice, a student will need to become acquainted with the three different phases of criminal justice, which include law enforcement, the court system, and corrections. Within each of these major phases rests several specializations for the criminal justice student.

Specializations within Police Work

For students eager to get into police work, investigation, and crime prevention, specializing in an area like police-community relations or sociology may help a police officer better navigate patrols on the street where interactions with citizens are common.

Gaining an understanding of how the public regularly interacts with law enforcement can smooth investigations. Swift resolution of conflict may not come to violence. Criminal justice majors may also choose to specialize in an area that would lead to work in the private sector, such as within private investigation, personal security, and corporate security.

Some specializations include:

  • Criminal investigation
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Policing
  • Security management

Paths for Work in the Courts System

For anyone who was more interested in the “order” part of “Law & Order,” working within the courts system might be a likely focus. A career as a lawyer or judge is an appropriate path for a criminal justice major, and specializing in the psychology of crime will help a student with aspirations of working in a courtroom.

A keen understanding of the courts system will also prepare a student to work as a bailiff or other officer of the court. A bailiff who can recognize when there might be trouble brewing during a trial, and who can also prevent something from happening, is a value to any courtroom.

Some specializations within the court system include:

  • Political science or government
  • Ethics and law
  • Case management

Specializing in Corrections

There are an extraordinary number of people incarcerated today in the United States and over the past thirty years, that number has more than quadrupled. Criminal justice majors who choose to work in corrections have several specializations open that are each important to the health and welfare of society. One of the most important areas a criminal justice major can work is in youth and juvenile corrections.

A life of crime that starts early where a teen is never given the chance to reverse course may turn an innocent kid who got into some trouble into a lifelong offender. Work in corrections may also mean a specialization in jails and security, which is quite different from the security needed for something like a residential home or a corporate office.

Specializations appropriate for someone interested in corrections include:

  • Corrections management
  • Leadership and management
  • Juvenile specialization

A graduate with a degree in criminal justice has the opportunity to reach wages over $63,800, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Specialization within a criminal justice program may offer even higher wage opportunities. Figuring out what specializations are available within criminal justice may help open doors for students after graduation.